Tiny beauties wow Agfest year after year

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Bonsai expert Noel Kemp showcases his beloved miniaturised trees

Tender love and care and most importantly patience are the tricks to growing bonsai, according to Noel Kemp owner of Ichi-ban-ii Bonsai.

Bonsai is a four-dimensional art form that sees dwarfed trees in tiny pots, he said.

Mr Kemp has a background in agriculture and started out growing veggies “like everyone does” before he turned to bonsai.

Vegetables in the supermarket were low and he couldn’t keep up with eating his homegrown produce and they would end up just going to seed.

“One day I was at a nursery in Hobart and I saw this little tree I said ‘ooh how much is that?’ and they said ‘no no we aren’t selling that it’s a stock plant’.

“They took cuttings from this plant with great big thick trunks that was umpteen years old and it was producing this bonsai.

“I thought 'Gee that appeals to me', so I started growing my own then and never looked back,” Mr Kemp said.

Although he can have some bonsai, such as maples, ready to sell in six to eight years, Mr Kemp has plants that are older than many of us.

“I actually just amazed a couple of patrons looking at this plant,” he said pointing at a bonsai, “they looked at the label that reads 1977, they said 1977! They didn’t believe me.”

‘You don’t have to do things to them all the time, I go away most winters for two or three months and in summer you don’t have to do much but in spring that’s when you do all the nipping, potting and pruning,” he said.

There are a lot of hours put into each bonsai and people are sometimes shocked at the prices, he said.

But with Mother’s Day tomorrow he hopes that sales will pick up today.

Ichi-ban-ii Bonsai is located at G02 in the TasNetworks craft Pavilion.

Photo supplied by Annie Greene